Wage Discrimination in British Columbia Business and Law Schools: An Empirical Analysis

By Thornicroft, Kenneth Wm | Labor Law Journal, Fall 2019 | Go to article overview

Wage Discrimination in British Columbia Business and Law Schools: An Empirical Analysis


Thornicroft, Kenneth Wm, Labor Law Journal


I.Introduction

Wage discrimination, based on race and sex, is a much studied phenomenon. A Google Scholar search of the terms "wages", "discrimination" and "gender" generates a list of over 33,000 articles published since 2010 (and a further 25,000 if"sex" is used in place of "gender"). A similar search using the terms "wages", "discrimination" and "race" returns a list of over 30,000 articles. Although the male-female wage gap has diminished over the past several decades, it nonetheless stubbornly persists. For example, as of January 2019, the average hourly wage for Canadian employees aged 25 years and older was $29.11, but there was a significant gender gap - the average male wage was $29.25 versus $25.45 for females (i.e., a 14.9% wage gap).1 This gap shrinks dramatically if one examines the male-female wage gap for unionized employees, but a gap nonetheless persists - for example, in 2018 the male/female gap for permanent employees in unionized workplaces aged 2454 years was $33.02/$31.16 or about 6%.2 The voluminous gender-based wage gap literature establishes at least four conclusions: first, the male-female wage gap has been shrinking over the past several decades; second, smaller gaps are reported in studies utilizing more sophisticated statistical methods and a larger number of explanatory variables; third, the magnitude of the wage gap varies across different industries and occupations; and fourth, notwithstanding the increasing sophistication of explanatory models, a male-female wage gap persists.

Visible minorities - even those who are highly educated - also appear to be disadvantaged in the Canadian labor market 3 Statistics Canada 2016 census data showed that members of visible minorities earned, on average, lower wages compared to Canadians who were not members of a visible minority, and that this disparity was greater for female, compared to male, visible minority individuals. For example, in 2016, a visible minority person aged 25 to 54 with a bachelor degree or higher in "business administration" earned, on average, $60,545 versus $105,876 for a person who was not a visible minority (a 74.9% wage gap). For individuals with a degree in "the legal professions and studies", the comparative average salaries were $59,996 versus $101,833, a 69.7% wage gap.4

A recent Statistics Canada report shows that much of the current overall gender wage gap is attributable to the comparatively large gap within the top 10% of all income earners.5 This latter study examined the wage gap across all employment sectors, whereas in this study I examine the wage gap within a single but comparatively well-paid sector, namely, post-secondary education (and indeed, within a narrow subset of this sector - business and law schools).

Women have made significant inroads into academia over the past several decades. For example, Statistics Canada reports that in 1970, only 13% of all full-time academic positions were held by women; by 2017, this percentage had increased to 40%. However, as of 2017 women were underrepresented at the highest (and most highly paid) academic ranks (associate and full professor) and continued to be paid lower average salaries than their male colleagues across all ranks.6 This latter fact is a troublesome labor market phenomenon.

Various studies have demonstrated that gender-based wage discrimination exists in both U.S. and Canadian universities but these studies typically examine wage gaps across all disciplines. However, separate disciplines (and classes of institutions) constitute separate labor markets. For example, according to a 2019 report issued by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, elite private U.S. research institutions paid salaries that were, on average, about 46% higher than salaries paid to faculty at liberal arts colleges. Further, faculty in professional schools (such as law, business and engineering) earned considerably more than faculty in the humanities - for example, the average salary for an assistant professor in business was nearly double that of an assistant professor in English or history. …

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